Linda Harrison (1945- ) is an American actress. She is world-famous, though not by name, for one part in one film where she spoke no lines at all: she played Nova, Charlton Heston’s girlfriend in “Planet of the Apes” (1968). She was also in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970) where she said just one word: “Taylor!”, the name of Heston’s character.
She grew up in Berlin, Maryland on the Delmarva Peninsula. In the early 1960s she won a string of beauty contests in Maryland, becoming Miss Maryland in 1965 – and coming close to winning Miss USA.
In 1965 she came to New York to become a model and maybe an actress. She did a screen test for 20th Century Fox and landed a seven-year contract!
In 1966 she played a cheerleader twice on the television show “Batman” and was in a Jerry Lewis film, “Way… Way Out”.
In 1967 she was in “A Guide for the Married Man”: she appears for five minutes with blonde hair but says no lines. She also became the first woman ever to play Wonder Woman for television (the show failed).
In 1968 she was in “Planet of the Apes”. Again no lines, but this time there was a good reason: her character lives in a world where apes talk and humans do not!
I felt very intuitive that my particular personality and nature were like Nova. Automatically, I’d say that’s about 80% of the part. The director, the producer and the writer talked with me about her, and they described her as “sub-human.” We hadn’t really had an actress play “sub-human” before. Nova’s not like Raquel Welch’s character in “One Million Years B.C.” (1966). She was more primitive because of the apes’ suppression. We played it by ear and experimented. It was really a moment-to-moment thing.
The trope is Nubile Savage, kissing cousin of the Jungle Princess.
In 1969 she played a regular character on the television show “Bracken’s World”, which was cancelled in the second season. About this time she made the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and became friends with editor Helen Gurley Brown.
Also in 1969 she married Richard Zanuck, a producer whose father ran Fox. After “Bracken’s World” Harrison dropped out of sight to become a mother to two sons, Harrison and Dean. She divorced in 1978.
She later appeared in some other films, like “Airport 1975″ (1974) and “Cocoon” (1985), but nothing to top Nova.
She almost played Roy Scheider’s wife in “Jaws” (1975). Her husband produced “Jaws” and wanted her for the part, but unfortunately he was overruled by the head of Universal who put in his own wife instead.
Harrison appeared briefly in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes” as Woman In Cart.
These days you can still see her at science fiction conventions!